Last cross season, I had the chance to snag a set of Chris King hubs from BelgianWerkx, they did not disappoint, here’s my thoughts…
I picked up a R45 front hub in a 24 hole pattern and a Classic Cross 28 hole rear rub, which Nick graciously laced to Velocity Major Tom tubular rims. This wheelset was a far step up from my previous tubular wheelsets that were of simple hub design, but required nearly weekly maintenance during the cross season, especially anytime they were exposed to wet conditions or super dusty races. Gone are the days of frequent rebuilding of hubs on Mechanical Mondays and I can spend more time recovering and planning for the next races!
Handbuilt wheels are simply better…with the tried and true design of the Chris King hubs, I get great durability, competitive weight, and classy looks. Couple that with being handbuilt by Nick, now I have a full package that is (most likely) going to be less expensive than factory built wheels, weigh less – if not nearly the same, and – most importantly – able to easily find parts, like spokes and nipples, should that gnarly crash happen during your race that leaves your wheel, uh, less than true. Have you ever had to find a Mavic spoke!? Could be months sometimes!
For my bikes, I chose a classy look to the wheelset that compliments my ‘cross bikes, but you’re free to get crazy and choose some pretty cool stuff to customize the wheels to be your own from colored nipples to bladed spokes. I kept it simple and went round spokes, alloy nipples and black hubs. Timeless. Nick put a little touch of a Cannondale green chain link sticker and BelgianWerkx logo on the rim. Details matter!
Oh, how do they ride!? Amazing! The King hubs are so fluid, so smooth. There are so many engagements to the rear hub, the second you put power into the pedals the pawls of the hub are engaging and transferring your effort. The Velocity Major Toms rims are pretty resilient – there are times that I ride like a sack of anvils and they take a beating, but I haven’t had to true this set yet. I will say I only weigh 150 pounds, so my beating may not be as bad as some bigger guys could dish out the wheels, but they have held up nicely for me. The Major Tom rims are nice and wide – 23mm – which makes for a great gluing surface and super comfortable to ride as you can run a little bit lower pressure with the wider rim and not having your tire roll.
I cannot recommend these wheels enough. Handbuilt wheels are just simply better. Easily serviced, customizable, cost effective, competitive weight and proudly built by quality mechanics like Nick. I’ve since sold all of my old tubular wheelsets this year and acquired two more sets of Chris King R45 hubs and Velocity Major Tom rims. That should speak for how much I believe in this setup.
Check back for details and a review on what tires I’m running on each of the three Chris King wheelsets this season.